Back in January, I bemoaned what seemed like a dismal freshman class for 2019. Six months later, midterm grades are in, and Capital City dining looks as sharp as ever. Undoubtedly, the wave of shutters in 2018 had a chastening effect, but with it has come a renewed focus. Gone is the New American noodling of 2016 and 2017 and eateries that ignore substance for style. The best new restaurants of the first half of 2019 trade all that in for tradition, diversity, and deep, personal connections to the food they serve. Turns out a kick in the pants is just what the city needed. Comedor Architecturally, no recent hospitality project holds a candle to Tom Kundig’s gloriously inky design for Comedor. Largely avoiding the increasing Wes Anderson-ification of Austin, it manages to be both contemporary and timeless, shedding the city’s midcentury affectations. Of course, that’s just scratching the surface. Though chef Gabe Erales could no doubt write a treatise on pre-Hispanic cuisine, the experience of his food is far from academic. Pastry chef Philip Speer is equally unshackled. Just witness how dried Oaxacan flying ants give unexpected heft to a mango sorbet. DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya The newe...